Now that we FINALLY have warm spring/summer weather here in Iowa, I am getting a little behind on this project! We have been keeping busy with putting in a new garden, landscaping, and putting the grill to good use. We have only cooked two international meals since my last post, and one of them was over three weeks ago. So… the next two posts will be brief!
For Bosnia and Herzegovina, I selected a type of small sausages called cevapi, a bread/roll that they are served on that goes by multiple names (lepnije/somun), a red sauce called ajvar, and an apple dessert called tufahije.
For the most part, this was a pretty normal meatball making process–mince some onions, garlic, parsley, add salt/pepper, then mix it in with the meat. Two things that made this unique: 1. The addition of baking soda mixed in hot water was new to me–I’m not sure how this affects the final product, but one of the blogs I read talked about it impacting the final texture– and 2. the meat selections–my only encounter with lamb meat to date was for Albania several months ago. This recipe used half ground beef and half ground lamb.
The meat was mixed together then made into small sauces the size of a finger. These were cooked on the grill (so glad we finally have warm enough weather to grill!!).
I will say off the bat that this is probably one of those recipes that we didn’t do justice. We followed the instructions precisely–start the yeast with warm milk and water, knead with the dry ingredients, rise, punch down, rise again, roll out the rolls, let them rise again, then bake them. However, we were in a bit of a hurry and missed the bake at 425°F for 5-7 minutes, then turn down the temperature to 300°F and bake for another 10 minutes. We started at 300 and baked for 10-15 minutes. I have no idea how that change affected the final product since I have never eaten this type of bread for, but I imagine it made some difference.
I was excited when I read the description of this sauce because it sounded similar to romesco sauce, which Tyler discovered a couple years ago and we LOVE. To make the sauce, we first roasted one eggplant, three red bell peppers, and half an onion until their skin started to blacken. This made the skin (somewhat) easier to peel off, although between the seeds, skin, and HOT flesh this was not a fun job. Once that was done, the contents were dumped in the food processor with garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt/pepper, then blended. I believe I also added some cayenne pepper, since many of the recipes I saw also included a spicy pepper.
I saw this dish on another international cooking blog and was instantly intrigued. Upon further research, I found that this dessert is prepared by peeling and coring apples (by the way, I’d love any advice on how to successfully core an apple without an apple corer–my technique of carving out the core with a knife was not extremely successful… to the point that one of the apples had to be put back together with a toothpick…), then boiling those apples in water, lemon juice, and sugar until they are tender but not mushy. Then they are set aside to cool, and the liquid continues to boil until it reduces, which took MUCH longer than expected.
Meanwhile, I mixed together a filling, which was a combination of ground walnuts, ground hazelnuts, cinnamon, and Greek yogurt.
To serve, the apples were stuffed with the filling, drizzled with the reduced sauce, and topped with whipped cream!
For the final meal, the cevapi was served on the rolls with chopped raw onions, ajvar, and a very inauthentic rendition of a traditional topping called kajmak. Kajmak is a dairy product that took more time than I had to make at home, and by all accounts the commercially available version is not as good. I saw a lot of substitutes but didn’t think to buy any ingredients for it. I thought it would go well with the meal, so I made my own substitute–I think using Greek yogurt and Feta cheese that I had on hand. The flavor and consistency may have been in the ballpark of the real thing, but I have no idea, so I’m not even counting it as one of my recipes for this meal.
It was difficult to get a good picture of the sandwiches:
Overall, I loved the meal the first night we had it. The ground lamb made the flavor unique, and it was a rare occasion where I enjoyed the raw onions on a sandwich. The avjar sauce was good (especially on bread as a snack later), although I still prefer the Spanish romesco sauce! It was a messy meal to eat in the cafeteria at work as leftovers, and I got tired of the leftovers more quickly than usual. I wish we wouldn’t have missed a step in making the rolls, because the descriptions of a light, pillowy interior were so appealing! They were good, but nothing Earth-shattering. The same could be said of the dessert. It was good, but not amazing. It reminded me a lot of an apple crisp or apple tart, but I think the temperature threw me off-I kept expecting it to be hot and the apple to be softer.